Art Fair Insiders

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Do you visit Wikipedia to get information? Did you know its vast content has been developed by volunteers? Have you ever contributed to its database of information? Is there a parallel between AFI and Wikipedia's development?

Here's a blog post from feverbee.com (a site for people who maintain online communities) that touches on some of the recent discussions on the site:

The Wikipedia problem:

Wikipedia attributes its volunteer problem to technology.

If it was easier to edit posts, more people would edit them.

Yet the technology hasn't changed much since its peak in 2007.

If it was a technology problem, how did they recruit so many volunteers in the first place?

Wikipedia can simplify the technology. It would probably help. More people might edit the posts. But this only adds more people at the top of the tunnel. This wont keep them there any longer. It's a temporary solution.

The problem is motivation. Why do those that spent the time to learn the technology no longer edit posts?

Too often we prescribe technological solutions to social problems. It's easier to change the technology. Move this button here, turn that to a lighter shade of green, and simplify the registration process. These things can help, but they're not a silver bullet. They mask the bigger social problems.

The real solution is usually social (or psychological). My guess is their motivation faded as Wikipedia's shiny object status faded. We know momentum is important. This decreased both each volunteer's motivation to edit posts and the number of people that wanted to volunteer.

Wikipedia never changed the volunteer commitment from desire to create something special (which faded once we took Wikipedia for granted), to an obligation to the Wikipedian volunteer community itself. The latter is more sustainable.

This problems afflicts many communities (and volunteer groups!). It's easier to recruit volunteers, contributors, and other help when your community is a new, popular, insurgent. Everyone wants to be part of it (I daresay, jump on the bandwagon).

Eventually, that shine wears off. You become part of the ecosystem, the establishment. Then the motivation dies down. We still love Wikipedia, but we're not dazzled by it.

Long time members here, do you see any parallels?

Newcomers to this site are dazzled by the depth of information available here and the activity. My mission is to keep the AFI community relevant to artist's lives. So many people have contributed so much useful information to the site and I know it is important to many. We'd be nowhere without these important people. I'm just pondering this on a Monday morning and looking for suggestions from you on keeping the site a useful tool for your art fair life.

We just sponsored a contest to win a pass to the Zapp conference. Who do you think should be the judges for the winner? Everyone? The featured members? Weigh in on this quickly because today is the day I plan to start the voting.

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